UK Theater Marks Significant Milestone for Viñoly

October 29, 2008

By Tim McKeough

Rafael Viñoly Architects, founded in New York in 1983, has completed its first project in the UK: Curve, a 140,000-square-foot theater in Leicester, England. The $102 million project is part of an initiative to make an arts district out of a once rundown area that was home to “strip clubs and bars you didn’t want to go into,” explains John Drew, director of RVA’s London office, which opened in 2001.

Curve, a theater in Leicester
Image © Will Pryce/courtesy RVA
Curve, a theater in Leicester, is Rafael Viñoly Architects first completed project in the United Kingdom.
Rate this project:
Based on what you have seen and read about this project, how would you grade it? Use the stars below to indicate your assessment, five stars being the highest rating.
----- Advertising -----

As the name suggests, Curve features a large curved glass façade—covered with metal louvers to mitigate solar gain—that offers transparency between the theater and the street. The overall design concept was to create an “inside out” theater, where all of the inner-workings of the theater are put on public view, says Drew.

Inside, two enclosed auditoriums—a 750-seat theater and a 350-seat black box theater—are situated on opposite sides of a single main stage, which can be divided by partitions. “The acoustics are such that you could have a rock concert on one side and Shakespeare on the other,” says Drew, adding that you also could raise the partition and “do theater in the round.”

The walls on the sides of the stage also can be raised, giving people outside the building an opportunity to peer in and watch the performers. Meanwhile, practice rooms and workshops for sets and props are also largely visible. “It takes all of those secret bits from the back of the theater,” says Drew, “and opens them up so that people can understand the business of theater.”

The 55 employees in RVA’s London office work primarily on European projects, but until now, they had yet to complete a project in the UK. Curve is the first of many significant projects now under way in the country, including the Battersea Power Station master plan, a sculptural tower at 20 Fenchurch Street in London, and the firstsite:newsite visual arts facility in Colchester. The firm also is designing two projects for the University of Oxford: a master plan for the Radcliffe Infirmary and a new building for the Mathematical Institute.

share: more »

 Reader Comments:

Sign in to Comment

To write a comment about this story, please sign in. If this is your first time commenting on this site, you will be required to fill out a brief registration form. Your public username will be the beginning of the email address that you enter into the form (everything before the @ symbol). Other than that, none of the information that you enter will be publically displayed.

We welcome comments from all points of view. Off-topic or abusive comments, however, will be removed at the editors’ discretion.

----- Advertising -----
----- Advertising -----
Sweets, Search Building Products